I am a girl who loves mountains, changing seasons, running, true backpacking, strong coffee, and knitting with high quality yarn.

When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.

The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Walking my talk.

My biggest pet peeve is people who don't walk their talk. I don't usually use a word "hate" seriously, but I despise those who say lotsa things and do little to nothing of those. Put your money where your mouth is!
Having said that, my biggest fear is one day to not "walk my own talk". Nobody may even notice, and if they did, they'd come up with a hundred of excuses and explanations, but can I, my strongest judge, look in a mirror straight into my own eyes? This is always a question I strive to answer positive.

There are two things I preach when it comes to ultrarunning. One is - give back to community that helps you become a better you and achieve your goals. Volunteer. Crew, pace, help out. Don't be a "taker", being a "giver" is much more fulfilling than any time in any race you ever do. And the second one - you can't get better unless you get uncomfortable. And you always - always! - want to get better. You do. If you don't strive for it, you are stagnating, not living. Way too many people around us are. Just because we joined the forces of ultrarunners, doesn't automatically mean we are better or striving. There are ways to improve. To try. To reach. And for that - you need to get out of your comfort zone...

I got to put quite some money into my mouth and walk my talk this weekend, and it was a very satisfying weekend, indeed.

Friday after work I grabbed Stephen (Larry had to take Harrison to some boy-scout event, and they, unfortunately, couldn't join us), and we headed out to the middle-of-nowhere to one of Tejas Trails and Prusaitis Co races, Nueces (10k, 25k, 50k and 50M). Out of those, 25k was a La Sportiva championship, and 50M was a USATF championship. Trail ultrarunning still struggles to find it's niche in a national field of running when it comes to official records and such, but it slowly we are getting there (on a side note, instead of trying to "make a new committee" blaming USATF not recognizing differences in road and trail racing, why not get more trail ultrarunners participate in USATF board as members and help them define those? But I promise to leave polictics and my personal opinions out of this particular post). Anyhow, this is only the second year Joe puts this particular race (I ran it last year), and it is already getting "bigger and better". The male field in 50M was rather tight, while nobody was to challenge Liza Howard on the girls side (I was told I need to take off my flip-flops, and go out there in my loose pants and cotton shirt to bring a (smaller) check home, but I really had other aspirations for this race day). We arrived at 9pm, and after chatting with few folks, went to our bunk beds around 11pm.

5am wake up came early, and Joyce grabbed me and Julienne to set up Texas AS, a first AS on the course. The wind was blowing and howling, and the traps were banging like crazy. This AS supported all races from 3 different directions, so had to be organized in a manner that would allow different races go their separate ways without getting tangled up. We put up first necessary items up, and an hour later I was relieved and driven back to my main work-place of the day - Pavillion (main) AS at start/finish, where 50k and 50M go through for their loops, and 10k and 25k finish. So, I hassled, and dragged stuff around, and set things up, and yelled at the starters, and kept everything in tight order, and later had Julienne and another man (who's name I never caught) help me while I put medals on finisher's necks and kept the banter going (and pushed the "future" ultrans to sign up for Joe's next race, Hells Hills). I spent 11 hours on my feet, and at 4pm cleaned it all up, loaded Stephen into my car - and off we went. Here is a blow for 50M results: Jason Schlarb from CO 1st in 6:28, Dave James (2nd from Bandera) was a bridesmaid (again, 6:43), Jason Bryant (La Sportiva guy and 3rd from Bandera) 3rd - again, Steve Moore (our local one and only) kicked ass in 7-flat, picking up Jack Pilla in the last mile. Liza in 8:09. First loop was run by Jim O'Brien (a collegiate miler from Chicago) in 2:00, and he did it without carrying a bottle. he pulled Dave along into the chase and dropped after 2nd loop (not surprisingly, but once he learns to fuel and run trails, he can be very good). Dave set himself up with this energy over-expenditure on 2 loop-chase and was passed just before end of 2nd loop by Jason Schlarb (a 2:20 marathoner on his only 2nd 50 miler). Dave tried hard, but Jason had a perfect - and smart - day. Jason Bryant and Steve Moore had very smart races as well. It was surely a fun day!!!

Night was short and sleep wasn't as good as I would have liked it, but I had a 4:30am wake up on Sunday - for - gasp - a half marathon! At the Nueces Big Chris came over and joked "Olga is doing everything backwards. Normal people build up slowly from short races to long ultras, Olga is prolific in 100's, and now decided to go opposite direction and will be running 5 k's soon". He wasn't far off truth:)) This year I am entertaining such a different approach to my training! Why, you'd ask? See "preach #2" above. I have gotten way too comfortable running trail ultras of 50 and 100M in the mountains. They take their toll, they challenge - but they don't throw too many surprises and I am rarely scared (or apprehensive for better word) before a race. I needed to shake it up! I needed to find an edge! If I teach you need to do intervals - you can always find me at the track on Tuesday at 5:30am! If I tell you everyone needs to do weights to balance muscle strength and to build that strength without getting injured while running too many miles - look for me 3 times a week at 5:30am sweatin' it with Big Guys! If I promote flexibility as a mean to make your stride longer and more efficient - join me in Yoga classes!

I ran over a dozen of half-marathons, all before my first marathon in 2002, with a PR in 1:42. This is not a fast time by no means, and just barely sub-1:50 was something of a "training tempo" for me back then. I reached 13M point in my January marathon in 2 hrs flat. Thus my goal was - sub-2:00, and I surely hoped to find extra 5 minutes somewhere on that hilly and windy course of Moe's Better Half in San Marcos. 1:50 was a star to wish upon...

I arrived with an hour to spare, and fell asleep in my car. A loud announcer's voice woke me up saying "Olga Varlamova needs to come to registration table". Holly, why? As I dragged my sleepy butt out of the car, a group of Austin ultrarunners was passing by laughing "They just want to give you a prize now, ahead of time". Right. Funny:) Apparently, I forgot to put my age down.

And we were off. 1st mile clicked in 7:30, and I was "Crap! That's my mile repeat pace!". Back off, girl. 3 miles went in 24-flat. Still too fast. Hills rolled, and I was struggling on the uphills. My weak spot is running up (I am good at power-hiking it for a long time, but not busting it in any type of running form). But I had gone through 6 miles in 48 min flat, still averaging 8 min/mile, and it rather scared me. So it should have. We entered a 3+ mile 2% grade incline (something I am horrible at even more than running short steep uphills), and my energy sagged. Like a train went over my legs. I had a full line-up of excuses: I just ran a 50 miler 2 weeks ago. I jumped back into training right away and had a full 2 weeks of it, no taper-shmaper. I spent 11 hrs volunteering yesterday. I am old and tired and lacking sleep. It went for almost all of those 3 miles, until I spotted a mile marker, calculated that my pace dipped to barely sub-9, and I got mad. No excuses allowed! Dig deep, you crazy girl! What the heck are you talking about? And I did...my right quad screaming, my legs feeling like cotton, my breathing so pathetic and loud, I was afraid the ambulance will get me off course. But I ran. And then I saw last AS and the hill looming at 12.5M. And that was all I needed for a push. Catching up (finally) to a guy we ran together with since the start (and who pulled away from me in that dark 6-9 mile stretch) worked wanders, and I exhaled "Don't you dare leave me alone". He smiled. We worked it together. I picked it up slightly, he fell a bit back - and then caught up right before the final turn into finishing chute, and we kicked it one last time. Together, elbowing, we crossed that finish line and hugged. That was hard!

I forgot to push the button, but he showed me his watch - 1:50. WTF! Yeah, baby!!! I am digging it!

A shout out to two of my clients - Eman ran her first 25k, on that crazy rugged course at Nueces, in 3:09! To think she ran her first road 5k a year ago, huh? Her son Hesham busted a 10k too, at the tender age of 7! And Jim finished Moe's half in 1:55 for a 15 min PR in only 4 months since last one! Way to go, guys!

Oh, and it's official - I am an LLC now. Healing Olga's Way. HOW. "A hands on approach to make your life better, one person at a time". A proper website is in order:)


SteveQ said...

Congrats on the LLC.

Sometimes when helping out at a race, someone will say, "Whatever can I do to repay you?" and I tell them to volunteer at a race. Pay it forward.

Danni said...

You rock.

Rooster said...

So great Olga!

amy said...

Great run, Olga---way to dig deep and hit your goal pace! I've been working on some faster running, too, and hope to jump out of my comfort zone into some shorter stuff every now and then. Funny how I'd rather run a 50 miler than a 10 miler any day of the week. The short stuff is scary!

Congrats on the LLC, too.

Carilyn said...

Hi Olga,

As always, love the report. I really do think about some of your comments during races, knowing that every race is tough, and we just have to dig deep and keep going.

Big congrats on the LLC!

Anonymous said...

RUN MORE! Where have I heard that before? Great reading this. Keep up the great work and running. RUN MORE!


Stephanie said...

I'm always in awe of runners...you guys put the rest of us to shame.

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